Climbing Pha Ngeun Hill - a must-try leisure activity in Vangvieng

Welcoming Visit Laos Year 2018, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and images inviting you to experience the authentic nature, culture, history and hospitality of Laos, Jewel of the Mekong.

I recently found myself back in Vangvieng district, Vientiane province, last month along with some friends I had made while attending an international journalism training course in Cambodia seven years ago.
The reunion was all the more special as Laos is celebrating 2018 as Visit Laos Year. Although it was an unplanned trip, our holiday ran smoothly because my friends from

Tourists enjoy taking pictures at the top of Pha Ngeun in Vangvieng.

Myanmar were delighted to take part in leisure activities such as exploring caves and kayaking.
These activities were planned ahead of their arrival in Laos but I was not sure whether they would like them.
On our second day in Vangvieng, I realised there was something else we just had to do – making it to the top of Pha Ngeun Hill. The height of this hill, located four kilometres from the centre of Vangvieng and across the Xong River, is 650 metres. It is on the path that leads to the Blue Lagoon and Poukham Cave.
The admission fee for the trek to the peak is 10,000 kip per person. This is collected by local villagers who man a gate at the bottom of the hill.
For me, it was tough walking up the hill because I had not done any warming up. But it was a rare chance to escape the stresses of the city and bask in the arms of nature.
Four of us took more than half an hour to reach the peak. Some of us were very tired but the reward was the magnificent view from the top.
We caught a glimpse of paddy fields in the valley, and it was as if we were in a dream or sitting in an airplane and looking out through the windows.
Ms Thinzar, one of my youngest friends in the group and an employee of an NGO in Myanmar, said she hadn’t planned to visit Laos for a week-long holiday because she had initially decided to go to the Maldives.
“Honestly, we had planned our trip to the Maldives but a friend said it didn’t have much in the way of leisure activities so we decided to come to Laos,” she said.
The young woman also points out that Laos has more attractive landscape and the nature is well-preserved more than her expectation.
“I have no regret to be in Laos because I have this opportunity to climb the hill. In fact, I’m a bit scared of heights but after I reached the top of the hill I had no fears at all. Instead, it was a joyful trip and a worthwhile experience in this laidback country,” she added.
“From now on, I will try to climb other hills when I have the opportunity as I think I got rid of my fear of heights in Vangvieng,” Ms Thinzar said with a smile.
Vangvieng attracts a lot of foreign tourists every year, mainly from the Republic of Korea, Thailand, and China.
There has been an increase in the number of foreign visitors to Laos thanks to the country’s attractive culture and natural beauty. However, tourism infrastructure and facilities need to be developed to enable better access to tourist sites. At the same time, tourism must be developed in a sustainable manner.
In addition, more facilities must be developed at tourist spots in response to the demands of tourists.
Laos, especially Vangvieng, has many fascinating attractions, but Pha Ngeun Hill is a wonderful challenge for climbers looking to prove their fitness.
As for me, I plan to return to the top of hill so that I can once again enjoy the fresh air, sense of freedom and the magnificent views over the landscape below.

 

By Bounfaeng Phaymanivong
(Latest Update May 30, 2018)

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